Reconnect With Nature At Moran State Park In The San Juan Islands

Embark on a journey to rejuvenate and reconnect with nature at the scenic Moran State Park in the San Juan Islands. This article will guide you through the enchanting beauty you can experience in Moran State Park on Orcas Island,  and review the activities you can participate in during your visit. Moran State Park offers many of the best things to do in the San Juan Islands, from hiking and swimming to boating and fishing.  

About Moran State Park

moran state park

Nestled within the scenic San Juan Islands, on Orcas Island, Moran State Park boasts a rich history and an enduring legacy. The park’s inception can be traced back to 1921, when Robert Moran, a successful shipbuilder and the founder of Moran Brothers Company in Seattle, generously donated a vast expanse of land to the State of Washington. 

This significant donation emerged from Robert’s acquired wealth, owing to the prosperity of his company during the marine traffic boom in the Puget Sound area and his stint as the mayor of Seattle.

At its establishment, Moran State Park was largely untouched wilderness. This landscape witnessed a remarkable transformation in the 1930s with diligent efforts by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). 

They constructed a road leading up to Mount Constitution’s summit, several stone bridges, picnic shelters, log buildings, and the iconic stone observation tower, which continues to offer breathtaking views of San Juan County. The tower and other structures are a testament to the park’s historical evolution and have served tourists for over eight decades.

The rustic charm of Moran State Park is undeniably one of its main attractions. Despite the scars from past fires and windstorms, the park has gracefully adapted, with trails and original buildings still in use, some after renovations.

The park’s tranquility and raw beauty draws locals and visitors alike, who indulge in hiking, boating, fishing, and exploring the serene lakes. The park’s trails remain vibrant throughout the year, offering picturesque vistas for witnessing sunrises and sunsets, particularly from Mount Constitution.

In the early 2000s, Moran State Park embraced the information age, introducing cell phone service in campgrounds and establishing glamping sites around Cascade Lake. However, the park’s essence remains preserved with wooden signposts, billboards, and the original stone bridges by the CCC, which continue to guide visitors along Olga Road, which leads you into the park, and Mount Constitution Road that takes you to the top of the mountain.. The park’s historical charm is complemented by modern amenities, creating a harmonious blend of past and present.

The park’s sustained popularity and the conservation efforts by local non-profits and the Park Service ensure that Moran State Park remains a cherished destination, inviting explorers to reconnect with nature and experience the timeless allure of Orcas Island.


With over thirty miles of meticulously maintained trails covering varied terrain, Moran State Park hikes are a great way to relax and explore. The park offers trails for every level of hiker, from serene lakeside trails suitable for families to more challenging hikes up Mount Constitution and Mount Pickett for experienced hikers. 

These trails, composed primarily of natural materials and the occasional wood plank bridge, are open year-round and provide close-up access to some of Orcas Island’s most famous sights, such as Cascade Falls.


Cascade Lake, the park’s most popular lake, is the go-to spot for swimming. The Day Use Area by the lake has been a longtime favorite among locals, offering a family-friendly location for swimming and picnics on the grass by the water. The Sugar Shack at the swim area offers refreshments, and visitors can explore the lake further by renting paddle boats or kayaks.


Boating on Cascade and Mountain Lakes offers a unique perspective to witness the lakes’ beauty. Various options are available, including renting paddle boats and rowboats at the Day Use Area of Cascade Lake during summer. 

Ramps are available at the Midway Campground on Cascade Lake and near the Mountain Lake Campground for those bringing their own boats. Remember to have your oars and electric motors ready, as no internal combustion engines are permitted, and a launching permit is required.


Anglers can delight in the fishing opportunities provided by Moran State Park, especially at Cascade Lake, which is stocked annually by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. Fishing on the San Juan Islands is a wonderful way to enjoy the tranquil environment from the shores or a boat. Early mornings offer serene settings for catching fish and enjoying the beauty of the surrounding nature.

Plan Your Visit

Experience the magic of Moran State Park for yourself – browse our entire inventory of San Juan Islands rentals to get started on your adventure!

How To Get To Orcas Island

Reaching Moran State Park and Orcas Island is a journey in itself, offering various modes of transportation for your convenience. Here are some of the easiest ways to reach this serene destination:

The most common way to get to Orcas Island is via ferry boat from the Washington State Ferry Terminal in Anacortes, Washington. Reservations are recommended for all sailings, and arriving at least 1 hour before sailing will ensure a smooth boarding process. 

Remember to check ferry arrival and departure times, especially during the unpredictable weather from October to May. The Washington Department of Transportation website is a reliable source for schedule changes and travel alerts.

Directions for Car Travelers:

  • Travel North on I-5 from Seattle (approximately 2 hours).
  • Take Exit 230 (Burlington/Anacortes).
  • Go West on Highway 20 into Anacortes.
  • Follow signs to the ferry terminal.

For ferry schedules and information, contact:

Daily flights to and from Orcas Island are available from Seattle for those seeking a faster and more scenic route. Kenmore Air Seaplanes offers daily scheduled flights from downtown Seattle to Deer Harbor, providing a thrilling and picturesque journey. 

San Juan Airlines also provides daily flights to Orcas Island from major destinations around the San Juan Islands. Private plane facilities are available, with more information at Eastsound Airport.

Point to Point Charter Flights provide a fully personalized and customizable schedule for pick up and drop off anywhere in the Northwest.

Commercial transportation companies operate tours in the San Juan Islands. The Airporter Shuttle offers service from SeaTac airport and other predetermined pickup locations, including Bellingham, Marysville, and the Ferry Terminal in Anacortes, making it a convenient option for those without a car.

Book Your San Juan Islands Lodging with Northwest Island Escapes

Moran State Park on Orcas Island is a haven for nature lovers and adventurers. The diverse activities, coupled with the stunning natural beauty, make it a must-visit destination. After a day of exploration, find solace in the cozy and inviting San Juan Islands vacation rentals offered by Northwest Island Escapes. 
Whether you prefer a quaint 2-bedroom cottage or a luxurious water-view property, we have options to suit your needs. Explore our 2-bedroom rentals and water-view properties to secure your ideal accommodation. Immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of the San Juan Islands and create memories that will be cherished for a lifetime.